A joiner’s health problems keep him from work as he fights with the system to get some help.
Ken Loach returns to filmmaking with this award-winning drama that should be essential viewing for all audiences. It’s a simple story about the man of the title who is too sick to work but not sick enough to claim benefits.
It’s simple in style too, with the 80 year old director a pro at getting precisely what he needs from a scene. That process starts with the cast, led by an incredible leading role for stand up comedian Dave Johns.
Usually when we talk about strong performances they’re of the showy kind- the larger than life characters and self-destructive behaviours which actors sometimes go through in pursuit of prizes.
Daniel Blake is nothing like that. He’s mostly quiet and reserved, a study of a man who had his ups and downs and takes it all with a curmudgeonly but kindly air. He feels real, which is down to the skill of everyone involved.
I, Daniel Blake is suffused with a kind of everyday comedy which makes the film feel all the more real, and often very entertaining. Its these moments which makes the drama feel even more intense, again very much like real life.
My presiding emotion coming away from the film though was anger, and it’s clear that’s Loach’s intent. Blake’s struggles with the automatons manning the social welfare services goes beyond annoyance to reach a fever pitch of frustration.
The hoops and rules and regulations are insufferable, and a very realistic nightmare for people all over the world who can so easily fall through the cracks in the system. If you feel like society is generally a warm or fuzzy place, this film has to be seen.
The drama might peak a few too many times in the latter half but I’d encourage everyone to see I, Daniel Blake for that rare trip to the cinema which is about more than mere escapism. This is a vital message from the disenfranchised and highly recommended viewing.